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The dinner menu at the ever-charming Annette, located inside the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, is tiny—just 16 seasonally inspired dishes and four impeccable desserts. (Sidenote: The current ice cream sandwich, which changes often, features two fat, chewy butterscotch cookies filled with orange-sage ice cream.) But there’s an off-menu special that you may not know about, and should: a fried rabbit dinner that serves up to four people.
That meal is a labor of love for chef-owner Caroline Glover and her team, who ask for 24 hours advance notice to prepare the rabbit and assemble the rabbit-dinner-only side dishes that go along with it. The animals come from Our Lady of the River Farm in Salida; Justin Brunson brings them to the Front Range chefs through his artisan meat company, River Bear American Meats.
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When Glover gets a call that guests are coming in for the meal, her team springs to action, brining the whole rabbit for six hours, then marinating it in buttermilk for a few hours more to tenderize and season the meat. Then, it’s double-breaded with a simple mixture of flour and salt for an extra-crunchy crust, and fried to order when the lucky diners are settled into their seats.
To round out the meal, Glover makes a pan of fluffy, buttery, yeast-risen rolls, which are only available alongside the rabbit. Following her no-waste ethos, you’ll also get a salad or slaw of some kind, depending on what is most fresh and abundant in Annette’s larder; sometimes it’s a cabbage slaw spiked with house-made chow chow, but on a recent Tuesday, it was a bitter frisée salad with shavings of pickled fennel and a light lemon dressing, a lovely counterpoint to the rich fried rabbit and rolls.
How’s the rabbit? It’s a revelation. The breading fries up crunchy and fragrant, breaking with each bite to reveal juicy, savory meat that tastes a little like chicken, sure, but chicken that spent its life nibbling on clover and alpine grasses. Paired with Annette’s house beer-mustard sauce, those rolls, and whatever veggie side Glover makes especially for your dinner, it’s a treat worth calling ahead for.
If you go: Call 24 hours ahead to reserve your $130 rabbit dinner for four at 720-710-9975; Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora